Rachel is a PhD student within the Translational Plant Sciences graduate program. She is from St. Louis and received her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Missouri. Her background is in molecular genetics/genomics, breeding, and bioinformatics. Before coming to OSU, she worked in a soybean molecular breeding lab where one of her main projects was focused on high oleic soybean oil for improved oil nutrition and functionality. Wanting to continue her research on oilseed crops, Rachel joined the Gschwend lab to study a cover crop called pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) that has high oil content and oil quality suitable for conversion to biofuel.
Her work is focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying flooding tolerance in pennycress. Pennycress has extreme cold hardiness which allows for off-season integration into Midwest corn and soybean fields, however, these fields are susceptible to flooding from winter snow melt and heavy spring rainfall. Her research objective is to characterize the morpho-physiological and genetic responses of pennycress natural accessions to waterlogging to identify natural variation in waterlogging tolerance. This work involves greenhouse trials, RNA-sequencing to look at gene expression patterns, and functional validation of candidate waterlogging-tolerant genes using EMS mutants and gene-editing.